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Case Rates and Travel Considerations

Key Points:

Recommendations for Industry

New Challenges Continue in Worker Protections

It has now been more than a year since COVID-19 was declared a pandemic, but the industry is continuing to face worker-protection challenges. Even as vaccines become more widely dispensed, states reopen, and the decline in U.S. case rates stabilizes, we are seeing cases resurging in parts of Europe, as well as Brazil and India.  Whether this is due to a rise in variants in those areas, changes in people's behavior, or that fewer people have immunity in those areas, is unknown, but the same could happen here.

For that reason, TAG continues to recommend that businesses maintain COVID worker protections … and it seems that OSHA agrees, as it has launched a new program to protect high-risk workers and focus on employers that retaliate against workers with safety concerns. To enforce this, OSHA is enhancing its inspections of businesses.

So now is not the time to back off anything; the potential consequences of lessening protections distinctly outweigh any benefits. However, now is the time to developing your strategy for backing off in anticipation of declining case rates as vaccination rates increase. Determining your criteria for a step-by-step approach to loosening restrictions, and setting a strategy will enhance the buy-in and understanding of your workers as they will see that things are not just being changed at random, but have logic behind them.

We will continue to provide considerations and tips to assist in your strategizing as we continue to chart the status of case rates, transmission rates, and vaccination levels – and keep you informed of it all.

Risk Matrix

Based on TAG’s matrices since last week:

  • The Government Stringency Index is 42 this week. It is lower than last week’s 45, indicating a decrease in government stringencies, evident by the lifting of restrictions. Eight (8) states’ (Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Massachusetts, New Mexico, and Oregon) businesses are in mixed opening stages. These states are indicated by an asterisk (*) in the matrix. No states’ businesses are closed completely.
  • Do you want to know when different sectors of the food and agriculture world can be vaccinated? Food manufacturing versus food service versus food retail (grocery)? Check out the 50-state chart updated this past Monday March 16, 2021, here.
  • In Figure 1, this week, we compare the case rate/100K (Table 1) in the population to the percentage of a state’s population that has been vaccinated (with first and second doses). Table 2 and 3 compare last week and this week’s percentage of states’ populations that have received their first and second vaccinations, respectively.

[Figure 1]

[Table 1]

[Table 2]

[Table 3]

  • 3 states have a TPR < 10% and a case rate≥ 25/100K people, indicating that adequate testing is likely finding most symptomatic cases of illnesses. These states are New Jersey (TPR: 8%, 41.7 cases/100K), New York (TPR: 5%, 35.5 cases/100K), and Rhode Island (TPR: 2%, 33.8 cases/100K).

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